Hiring an assistant is almost always a wise and important move for a leader. So important that I argue that the first person that you should hire is an assistant. Why? Because you have too much specialized training and are being paid too much money to do all of your own admin work. Hiring an assistant will help you to free up valuable hours weekly that you can invest in key areas. But, how do I go about hiring an assistant? And How do I find the right assistant?
Here are Four Principles for Hiring the Right Assistant:
1. Don’t hire a Person Simply Because He is There.
To hire an assistant just because she is present or has been faithful is to skip several steps of the process. The consequences for making the wrong assistant hire are often painful. Instead of hiring the person right in front of you do the following:
- Write down everything that you need your assistant to do
- Create a job description
- Then look to fill that position with a person who is the right fit
Even if there is a person in front of you that you like, it still wise to cast a wide net and see who shows up and is interested.
2. Hire a Person with the Humility and Willingness to do Anything.
Your assistant needs to be humble enough to regularly and happily do menial tasks. Take the time to vet any potential hire for this kind of humility during the interview process. CRITICAL: When you are interviewing a potential hire look for red flags like: “I am willing to do those kinds of tasks but don’t necessarily love them.” This is code for: “Don’t ask me to do things that are beneath me.” You are looking for a person who willingly goes out of her way to take things off of your plate. You are looking for a person who looks to assist you in any and every way to help you carryout your role more effectively. Humility is required for this kind of role.
Also Read: Why Leaders Fail with their assistants
3. Hire a Person with a High Capacity.
An assistant who is humble but incompetent will not last long as your assistant. The best assistant is humble enough to regularly and happily do menial tasks but also has the capacity to tackle more intense projects. My assistant needs to be able to interact with people on my behalf and have a capacity beyond what he is sometimes asked to do. Humility + High Capacity = A winning mix in an assistant.
4. Pay your Assistant more than the Going Rate.
If your goal is to have an amazing assistant, stop trying to pinch pennies and open your checkbook. You are better off having a 15 hour a week assistant that is competent and highly paid than a 30 hour a week assistant who is minimally paid and mediocre. I suggest paying at least a couple of dollars an hour above the going rate and expecting high performance. Remember: You get what you pay for.